O.E. hedan "to take care, attend," from W.Gmc. *hodjan (cf. OS. hodian, O.Fris. hoda, Ger. hüten "to guard, watch"). Survives only in lit. use and as the object of verbs (take heed, etc.). Probably related to O.E. hod "hood" through a sense of "guard." Heedless "without regard" is from 1579.